Clowns Conquer

mump & smoot in flux written by Michael Kennard and John Turner, directed by Karen Hines, with.


mump & smoot in
flux written by Michael Kennard
and John Turner, directed by Karen Hines,
with Kennard, Turner and Scott
Macdonald. Presented by Mump & Smoot
at Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley).
Runs to June 23, Wednesday-Sunday 8
pm. $20-$30. 416-368-3110. Rating:
NNNN Rating: NNNN

Go see Mump & Smoot In Flux andcamping will never be the same again.The demonic duo from the planet Ummo send up every “great outdoors” cliche in the book, and add a few frighteningly funny chapters of their own.

Entering from a side door in a hilariously lifelike boat, the horror clowns disembark onstage, attempt to set up a tent and then discover one problem after another — from a lack of a lighter (cue audience participation and one of the most surprising gags in the show) to the annoying reappearance of a vicious bear named, in their particular brand of gibberish, Boolawa (Scott Macdonald).

Working with a simpler set than their last show, the clowns have carved out an archetypal tale of survival among the elements. Of course, as with all their works, the story is made funnier and emotionally richer by the character interactions, the annoyingly chatty and childlike Smoot (John Turner) constantly testing the limits of the bossy and seemingly dominant Mump (Michael Kennard).

Karen Hines’s direction ensures that every bump in the night is felt, and Greg Morrison’s soundscape — including a catchy song about the dreaded Boolawa — is as much fun as the performances.

Turner and Kennard are such deft improvisers that technical problems — and there were a couple on opening night — only mean opportunities for bigger, unexpected laughs.

This is the clown duo’s first show in nearly four years, and their appearances are always reassuring and (dare I say it?) therapeutic. Mump’s ambivalent sighs and Smoot’s high-pitched pleas and occasional growls speak directly to our primal fears and joys.

Praise be to Ummo: the clowns are back in town.

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